I woke up this morning to hear my radio telling me that Osama bin Laden is dead. I sat dumbfounded as I listened to the newsreader tell me about how Navy SEALs stormed a compound in Pakistan and killed him during the ensuing firefight.
It was a moment of astonishment.
There have been a few of those in the near decade since that fateful day in September of 2001. The world changed that day in ways that can never really be put right. And, since that day the world has hunted for the man considered responsible. We have searched mountains and caves. WE have lost good men and women in the fight against his confederates and supporters.
And now, he’s dead.
The reaction in many place has been celebration. But, I have to admit that somehow celebration doesn’t feel like the right response to me. I don’t feel joy or happiness at this news. It is hard to feel happiness from the news that any man is dead, no matter how evil and deserving they were. No, what I feel is more akin to a combination of relief and justice.
Relief may seem like a silly thing to feel. It takes but a moment’s consideration to realize that the removal of one man, no matter how highly placed or charismatic, will not stem the tide of violence and terrorism. The truth is that another has probably already stepped into his place, maybe even more than one other. The man can now become a symbol for his movement, which in some ways makes him more dangerous than he was before. But, I have to believe that men with such hate and violence in their hearts and souls are a cancer on the spirit of this planet.
And so, while I do not cheer for the violent death of a fellow human being, I am glad that this particular cancer has been excised. The world in a better place with him removed.
Justice is a little more obvious, at least for those of us on this side of the issues. Here was a man who plotted to end the lives of thousands of my countrymen. A man who brought fear, terror, and loss of liberty to a place that should be a beacon of hope and freedom. The acts committed in his name darkened the world with a cloud of fear that will never completely dissipate.
Much violence has been waged in the intervening period. And we are not without fault in that violence. But, you will have to forgive me if I feel a certain satisfaction in this death stemming from a grim sense that in some small way the scales have been balanced. This will not bring back a single soul that has lost their life, whether in the incidents of September 11 or their aftermath, but knowing bin Laden is dead can bring a certain level of closure to the madness that has infected out nation psyche since that day.
I saw many things across my Facebook account today regarding this event. But, perhaps the most accurate for how I feel in this matter came from a man who was a close friend in high school who simply quoted Mark Twain.
I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.